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Just played the best game of no-limit Texas Hold 'Em!

$10 bought me a seat at the table. I got a few strong hands early on. Then I got caught looking for an incomplete flush. I won a couple of hands where both players still in the pot had a pair of, say, kings but my 9, for example, beat his 4 -- i.e., very close, strong hands.

I went all-in halfway through the game, and somebody called me. It was about a $7-$8 bet, and there was close to $20 in the pot. I needed a spade to make the flush and win. I got it. I was so close to going out, yet suddenly I was the chip leader.

Jess, Tubby's gf, who was probably second to me in the chip count, decided to go to bed, so she gave all her chips to Tubby, who was the first person knocked out but had bought his way back in. So Tubby and I were pretty close for chip lead.

I knocked Eric and Chris out on the same hand by forcing them to go all in. I got dealt a king and a 9. The flop contained a king in it. Eric came out betting strong, so I figured he must have a king as well. Not knowing what his other card was, I played conservatively. When he went all in, I was concerned about that second card in the hole. However, he was chip poor, so I could weather that loss. So I called him. Then a 9 came out on the River. That almost certainly secured the pot for me. I sized up the value of Chris' pot and made a side bet in that amount. He called, which forced him all in. They were done.

It was down to "Second-Chance" Tubby and me. I chipped away at him for several hands before he made his big move. I knew he must have a good hand when he went all in, because he plays conservatively. I had pocket hearts, though, and two hearts had come up in the flop. I liked my chances of getting one more heart in the next two cards. Still, I had previously been burned on flush attempts. The size of his pot was $27.30. If I called and won, the game would be over. If I called and lost, I'd still have a few dollars, but he would have over $50 he could leverage against me. It was a huge gamble, but part of me didn't trust Stephen's bet. After thinking about it for a couple of minutes, I decided to call him. We turned out cards over. He had pocket sixes. With the pair of threes on the table, that gave him two pair. My only hope was to get a heart in the next two cards. The turn was dealt: it was a heart. I pumped my fist in celebration. But then a startling realization hit me. Yes, I got my heart, but it was a 6 of hearts. That gave Tubby a full house. Lady Luck has a sick sense of humor!

If I played my cards right, I could get back into the game, but my situation was desperate. My next few hands were very good, and I kept going all in, but Tubby would fold. But I watched him, looking for any opening. Finally he came out betting strong, and I was dealt a pocket jack and queen. This was my chance to make a move. I went all in, and he called. I turned over my jack and queen. He turned over a jack and king. Oh, the cruel irony! This was exactly how I had built up my lead early in the game, and it was coming back full circle at the most inopporune moment. I had only one chance, and that was for a queen to turn up in the 5 face-up cards that were about to be dealt. I watched nervously as useless card after useless card was turned over. Then I shook Tubby's hand and congratulated him on a great game, even if it was Jess' money he won with! <grin>

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